Finding an edge in your NFL betting requires you to look at certain teams’ strengths and weaknesses in different areas of the field. Some teams are strong on defense, others on offense. A rare few are packed full of talent in every position.
Here’s a selection of Sunday’s games where mismatches at key positions will likely have a big impact on the outcome.
Patriots’ wide receiver Randy Moss vs. Redskins’ secondary
It’s not so much that the Washington Redskins’ secondary is weak, it’s just that Randy Moss is that good. Twice against the Dolphins last week he made virtually impossible catches, one from a 35-yard pass, the other from a 50-yard throw.
On both occasions Moss had two safeties covering him. He rose above them to make the catches look easy. The receiver leads the league in touchdowns and receiving yards for the season mainly because he is the go-to guy for the league’s most accurate quarterback, Tom Brady.
The Redskins, meanwhile, could be without corner back Fred Smoot after he pulled his hamstring in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals. Backup Shawn Springs looks set to face the league’s leading receiver.
New England is a 16-point home favorite.
Steelers’ running back Willie Parker vs. Bengals’ rush defense
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker should continue his fine form on Sunday against a poor Bengals’ rush defense. The workhorse receiver has already racked up 600 yards on the ground this season, which is a problem for a Cincinnati defense giving up 135.5 per game.
At 5-foot-10, Parker is not the biggest guy you’ll see on a football field, but he uses his pace and power to carve opposing teams open. He already has four games this season with 100 or more rushing yards and the Steelers have won every game where he’s gone over the century mark.
The Bengals have given up 100 or more yards to four different rushers this season, which could be part of the reason why they are 3 ½-point home underdogs.
Chargers’ turnovers gained vs. Texans’ turnovers lost
Were it not for its stupid mistakes on offense, the Houston Texans could actually have a better record than 3-4. But their inability to protect the ball has cost them, and could continue to do so against a Chargers’ defense that prides itself on forcing turnovers.
Offense starts with the quarterback, and so do offensive mistakes. Texans QB Matt Schaub has thrown as many interceptions this season as he has touchdowns. Combined, Houston has turned over the ball an AFC-high 18 times this season – eight interceptions and 10 fumbles.
On the flip side, the Chargers rank third in the AFC with 19 turnovers gained – seven touchdowns and seven fumbles.
Eagles’ pass offense vs. Vikings’ pass defense
The Eagles favor passing the ball over running it and that could spell trouble for a struggling Vikings’ secondary. Philly quarterback Donovan McNabb has thrown for seven touchdowns and just two interceptions this season, and should dominate the league’s worst pass defense.
Minnesota has given up 282.5 yards per game in the air, allowing Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo to throw for 277 yards and one touchdown in last week’s 24-14 loss.
To make matters worse, safety Dwight Smith and linebacker Vinny Ciurciu are all injury doubts for Sunday.
Philadelphia is a 1-point road favorite.
Browns’ red zone offense vs. Rams’ red zone defense
The Browns are the third-most efficient team in the red zone this season, scoring 11 touchdowns in 17 attempts. This week they face a Rams defense that has allowed its opponents 14 touchdowns out of the 26 times they’ve reached the St. Louis red zone.
Cleveland’s surprising red zone success is largely down to running backs Jamal Lewis, Jason Wright and QB Derek Anderson. The trio has combined for 63 rushing yards and four rushing TDs from inside the 20-yard line, while Anderson has also thrown for 70 yards and seven TDs from the same area.
Based on what they have done so far this season, the Rams’ defensive line will not be able to contain the Browns. St. Louis has given up points, either a touchdown or a field goal, in 22 of the 24 times its opponents have gotten inside the 20-yard line.
St. Louis is a 3-point home underdog.